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Shimming a Stratocaster Nut to Prevent Buzzing at the First Fret

millstap Music 2017-05-23 - 12:54:53

"(Please read the entire description for tips) The clearance between the top of the first fret and the bottom of the E string (according to Fender specs.) should be .020 (bass side) and .018 on the high E (in playing position and not lying on a table). SRVs Strat was .018 and .012 and Chris Duartes was .020 and .012. My 1963 Strat was around .013 (bass) and .015 (treble side). I noticed that my CAR Strat had cleaner bass notes at .022. I decided to shim this nut that had been made by a local guy last year but it was too low. I wasnt real thrilled that I was having to fix his work. I got the instructions out of Dan Erlewines book How to Make Your Electric Guitar Play Great. It worked out great although it was a little messy and I am still cleaning Super Glue out of the string slots (see my tip at the end of this description). The guitar sounds better now. I had already built up the treble string side (last year) of the nut with bone dust and Super glue so I scraped that off and started from scratch. The paper and glue seem to be pretty hard so I am not too concerned about losing any tone at the nut. Trimming the paper is pretty easy with a razor blade. I sanded it a little before I stuck the nut back into the slot. It fit snuggly like it should. I hope this helps you if you are having a problem with all of your strings being too low. If you hit the strings hard like Stevie used to do, then a little extra clearance here makes the strings really ring out. I added two layers of .003 paper from a string envelope which brought the nut up from .013 to about .020 clearance. TIP: I just thought of a tip that might help keep the string slots clean. Rub some wax into them to keep the excess Super Glue from filling them in. It is a pain to clean out that glue and you are not really sure if you get it all out. Give that a try. I wish I would have thought of that before I did this. Note: I also added a link at the end of this video to a video I did showing the 3rd fret press test you can do to check for the correct nut height starting at 2:00. Interesting Observation: Notice the difference in headstock thickness between the 1962 neck in the background versus the 1963 neck. It is very noticeable if you look at the distance the tuning pegs stick up above the face of the headstock."

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